Valencia oranges

I can’t go anywhere without seeing signs for flu shots—a reminder that it’s time to start boosting our immunity. 

“Filling your grocery cart with nutritious foods and beverages from all the food groups will provide your body with essential vitamins and nutrients to help support a healthy immune system,” says registered dietitian Kim Galeaz, coauthor of 4 Weeks to Maximum Immunity

Galeaz offers the following tips for maximizing nutrients when visiting your local natural and organic food store:

1. Point your cart toward the produce aisle. 

Load up on colorful fruits and vegetables that strengthen your immune system: 

  • Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach
  • Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables: citrus, bell peppers, carrots, winter squash and sweet potatoes
  • Frozen and dried fruit and vegetables that may be more economical

2. Spice up fall meals. 

Red and green chile peppers—and hot sauces—are rich in vitamins A and C. They’ll spice up any meal, while providing a healthy dose of natural antioxidants.

3. Pack protein into your wellness plan. 

Protein helps build, repair and maintain the body’s cells, tissues and organs, which helps sustain your immune system and energy levels. Galeaz recommends low-fat or fat-free milk, reduced-fat cheese, lean beef, lean pork, skinless poultry and fish. If you’re a vegetarian, opt for beans, lentils or soy products like tofu, soy milk, meatless burgers and edamame.

 4. Juice it. 

Galeaz says 100% orange juice is one of her favorite ingredients. One 8-oz. serving is a good source of folate, potassium and thiamin, and it contains more than 100% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Tune in Thursday for one of her favorite OJ recipes. 

Photo: Florida Department of Citrus